Over the holiday weekend, one of our roundup observers witnessed firsthand the devastating and inhumane treatment by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and its contractors of an innocent baby wild horse.
Reportedly, these contractors then hogtied the baby and threw the young foal to the ground once more before putting him into the back of an Off Highway Vehicle. These actions are deeply disturbing and unfortunately we know that this small foal is not — nor will he be — the only one to suffer this roundup season. During the hot summer months, vulnerable young foals are chased by low-flying helicopters and often sustain broken bones, injuries, and in some cases, die.
This will not be the only foal mistreated at the hands of the BLM contractors this roundup season. During last year’s roundups, many foals were seriously injured or died due to inhumane practices and helicopter chases.
Since I now have 16 equines, 3 donkeys, 12 mules and a miniature horse, it is not always convenient to bring them all up to the Tack Barn work station for grooming. I used to have 32 equines! As I get older, I find myself a lot busier (One would think it would be the other way around…LOL!). I am glad I have less animals to groom each week! My show days have long since passed, so I limit the training to those who need core strength tune-ups and simple pleasure rides around the ranch. Forunately, my routine way of management and training resulted in good behaviors and a willingness to comply with my wishes. Sometimes, to save time, I just fill a bucket with my grooming tools (Plastic human hairbrush, Johnson’s Baby oil, clippers, Cool Lube, scissors for ergots, Neosporin and Tri-Tech 14 fly spray) and groom them in turnout areas, or in the stalls and runs. I call them to the gate, give them a reward for coming and begin my routine grooming.
I start by clipping their bridle paths in the summer and fall. This keeps them from getting over-heated. I will let their bridle paths grow out in the winter and spring to keep the warmth within their bodies. Grooming gives them great pleasure when it is done correctly and politely!
They are always rewarded for cooperating during grooming, so they hang around and don’t wander off. I even reward the ones in the neighboring pens to reinforce “handing out.” I always clean ears, eyes and nostrils, and will do this daily with donkeys that typically have runny eyes. It isn’t their favorite, but they will tolerate it for the crimped oats reward! They all like to SUPERVISE the grooming of each other! They are pretty funny! It makes our time together very enjoyable!
I use my multi-bristled, plastic human hairbrush both to apply the lightly-sprinkled Johnson’s baby oil AND to go over their bodies as they are shedding. It gets all the way to the roots, flips out the dirt, and promotes a well-aerated, healthy hair coat. When the coats are short, I can use a dandy brush, or bring them up for vacuuming with yearly baths in July.
A common practice is to braid manes and tails to get them to grow longer. I have found that this will often cause the hair to break. Plus, it is difficult for the animals to swat flies with braided manes and tails. Quite simply put, it hurts! I use Johnson’s Baby oil during weekly grooming, sprinkled in the manes and tails. It does a good job of protecting the hair and doesn’t get as greasy as you might think. The day before a show, I bathe them with water only over the body and scrape off the dirt with a shedding blade. I only use Tres Semme shampoo and Aussie #X conditioner in the manes and tails. If I am going to show them, I let the manes and tails partially dry and braid them for overnight. When you take out the braids the next day, their manes and tails will be much fuller! Even the thinner and wilder manes on mules will respond positively to this treatment.
Lots of my animals are older and have issues with runny eyes. If I am not showing them, I will “cut their bangs” to keep the hair from irritating their eyes. Even when showing, I can trim the bangs so they aren’t cut straight across and look funny.
The minis are much calmer when I try to stay down at their level whenever possible. I gather the excess hair and remove it from the areas where I groom. If they decide to eat it, it could cause impactions. Better to be safe than sorry!
Although they are all fine with fly spray, this time, I am going to take pictures for this article so I am haltering them and tying to the fence. Then I will just go down the line and fly spray them all at once. They are very willing to stand the way I position them for the pictures. When I am done, I release them! Grooming is FUN!!!
Yesterday marked the first official day federal helicopters descended onto wild horses to roundup and remove them from their homes. By the end of this summer thousands of wild horses across the West will have lost their freedom, families and for some, even their lives as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) restarts its brutal helicopter roundups. The first roundup of the season has already begun in the Buffalo Hills Herd Management Area (HMA) in Nevada where over 350 wild horses are caught in the BLM’s crosshairs.
These horses need you. We send out field observers to document each and every roundup possible – and as you can imagine, sending our field representatives to remote areas of the West for each roundup takes a lot of resources. But with the record of injuries and animal welfare violations the BLM has accumulated, we know that we have to be on the ground. It is essential to bear witness to the atrocities committed by the BLM so we can stand up for these innocent animals. If we didn’t, no one would.
The Buffalo Hills roundup is only the beginning, Meredith → The BLM will be targeting at least seven other HMA’s through September 10, including the Triple B Complex and Twin Peaks HMA where a combined 4,000 horses will be removed in July alone.
AWHC will be on the ground for every roundup possible. We have spent the first part of the year bringing on new field representatives who are trained on the BLM’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) and are ready to document any and all violations committed against our beloved wild horses during these roundup operations.
When our field representatives report back any abuse or mistreatment they witness, we take action. Our Government Relations team alerts our Congressional champions, our legal team reviews the documentation, and we report the mistreatment directly to you. Without AWHC’s on the ground work, the public would not know what happens to our wild horses and burros at the hands of the federal government
But we’ll be frank, funding our observation teams isn’t cheap. It costs between $2,500-$3,500 to document each roundup for 7-10 days. Further, several of these roundups will be happening simultaneously, which means we need to deploy more field representatives so that we can continue to hold the BLM accountable for its mistreatment of wild horses and burros.
Chasity does not have the most optimum conformation anyway, but when she first arrived, she was really stuck in a bad posture. She moved with a hollow back and her legs did not reach underneath her body when she walked. Her body did not allow for a flexible spine with ideal movement through her joints and I would presume that internal organ function was also compromised. Her body was very stiff and flexion of any kind was difficult for her. The bacterial infection in her udder was old and persistent. With our feeding, management and exercise program, Chasity has improved substantially and now enjoys a much more posturally correct body, more flexibility and a bacterial infection that is receding rapidly with antibiotics and the right kind of exercise. She is now happy to come to the stall door to accept her halter and “gives” easily and willingly to have the “Elbow Pull” postural restraint adjusted!
Standing in a 4-square posture used to be really difficult for Chasity and with her rigid back, she was unable to stretch her spine and flex at the poll while standing with equal weight over all four feet. With a month of our postural therapy leading exercises through the “Hourglass Pattern” this has changed dramatically and she can now flex easily when prompted.
Bending through her rib cage around the turns, while remaining erect in her body, was also impossible at first. With each new lesson, she continues to improve in both directions. The neck sweat encourages shrinking of the fat deposits on her crest and the bending is improving the alignment in her neck.
Work over the ground rails at the center of the “Hourglass Pattern” is helping her hoof-eye coordination, enabling proper foot placement, suspension and self-carriage in her body.
Chasity enjoys the simple challenges of these exercises as they provide more comfort in her body than she has ever known! She is happy and enthusiastic about these sessions!
With the rapid improvement through her body during the flatwork exercises in the “Hourglass Pattern,” we were able to begin going through some very simple obstacle exercises that made the sessions more interesting for her and kept her alert while adding some coordination to her body. The repetition of going through the gates the same way every time taught Chasity to wait patiently, bend correctly through her rib cage when walking through them and to consistently stand 4-square on both sides.
Breaking the obstacles down into smaller steps taught her to be alert and attentive to my commands and allowed her to learn to rebalance properly in each of these new positions.
When I first began the obstacles, I did not ask her to do the most difficult position of standing with her front feet down and her back feet on the bridge. She has been very good about stopping when I ask, so I decided to try it today and she did GREAT! I did not ask her to square up in this position yet, but I will as she becomes stronger in her core and can hold the position more easily. Then we walked of the end of the bridge and squared up again.
The first attempt at the tractor tire, Chasity walked up to it and looked at it, but would not do any more than that. The last attempt at the tractor tire, Chasity allowed me to pick up her foot and just direct it toward the middle like in the first photo, so I left it at that, rewarded her and asked no more. Today, she went one step further and offered to extend her foot herself, but still would not place it in the middle of the tractor tire, so we stopped, rewarded and will continue again next time! She is getting a LITTLE further each time and that is “rewardable” in my book! To force it would only result in a fight and probably wouldn’t get the job finished anyway! I am sure we will have better luck next time!
The last time over the smaller tires, she was hesitant. This time she forged ahead like a pro! And, going forward through the barrels was no problem at all! We might try backing through them the next time if she is willing.
Backing through the Back-Through “L” is getting much better and the tarp is a cinch! This time, she went right down the middle with no trouble at all! Taking small steps is critical to success!
Chasity has become a pro at negotiating the gate, standing perfectly and waiting patiently on each side.
The broom is yet another obstacle and Chasity learned it would not bite her as I politely swept up around her. She was rewarded for staying calm and afterwards, we did some spinal stretches.
Then it was time for yet another soak of her infected udder. The vet arrived to do a check and was so happy to find that we had reduced the infection by 70% in only 14 days! He really did not expect that! He also commented about how much better her posture was and the strength she showed over her top line. We opted to do a second 14-day run of the same antibiotics and continue the exercise and soaking.
Chasity no longer needs to be led into her stall and turned around to take off the halter. She can now be sent in and turns to face me of her own free will! Core strength postural exercises have a profound effect on the equine’s body and mind! Chasity is yet another example of the dramatic results that you can see when employing this relatively simply feeding, management and training program. It is not only for rehabilitation, but rather, it is a program that can give your equine athlete optimum health and the opportunity to perform to the best of his ability! Just ask Chasity!